The Patriots continue to dominate on the football field, but when it comes to your fantasy football team, the inconsistency can drive you nuts. We all know that a Patriots receiver will blow up one week and turn into a ghost the next. Oh and the dreaded roll of the dice at running back just proves Coach Belichick does not care about your fantasy team. Let’s get rolling on which players that will produce for you and which format they fit best.
1. Tom Brady (All Formats)
As the greatest player on the Patriots, this is a no-brainer but let’s dive into WHY Tommy is still a fantasy stud. Brady missed four games last season after the biggest witch hunt of the century just to end the season as a top-20 fantasy football player. Brady was ranked 17th in standard format leagues overall out of every NFL player with only 12 games under his belt. He also averaged 21.5 points-per-game which was 3rd among quarterbacks behind Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan. His wide receiver core was graced with the addition of Brandin Cooks along with the return of a fully functioning Gronk. Brady is easily a first-round draft pick if you’re the guy that takes a quarterback in the first-found. I find the fourth-round the best bet to still land a quality quarterback, but unless you are in a league with a bunch of potatoes, Brady will be gone by then.
2. Julian Edelman (PPR League)Edelman fits into a PPR (points per reception) league best due to him being the top targeted player on the Patriots. He was targeted 158 times last season with 98 receptions. That right there alone is 98 points in fantasy without adding yardage and touchdown points. This makes him a top PPR wide receiver. Edelman ranked 22nd in fantasy wide receivers last season in standard formats, but that’s mostly due to his lack of touchdowns. If you are in a PPR league, I suggest putting Jules up high on your draft chart.
3. Brandin Cooks (All Formats)Cooks was a top-10 fantasy wide receiver last season coming in at number eight. He averaged 11.2 point-per-game and he wasn’t even the top targeted player on the Saints. His chemistry is building with Tom Brady and it’s been reported that they have spent some extra time together outside of practice. Chris Hogan gave the Patriots that down-field presence they needed, but Cooks will be the one to see the majority of looks on a more consistent basis. Cooks looks to be a solid WR2 especially if you are in leagues that give reception bones on 40+ yard touchdowns or catches.
4. Rob Gronkowski (All Formats)Gronk is a must draft no matter what. You know if you can draft him and pass due to injury concerns, you will regret it when he puts up 18pts against you in the playoffs. Not only is he the best tight end in the NFL, he’s one of the best fantasy players in the game. He only managed eight games last year, but ended his season averaging 9 points-per-game, the highest among tight ends. He allowed tight ends eight more games to up their average and no one caught him. If you do manage to snag Gronk in the draft I would draft your bench tight end a round or two earlier than you normally would. That being said, Gronk is still a first or second round draft pick!
5. James White (PPR League) Super Bowl 51 star, James White, proved his worth to the Patriots and was rewarded with a contract extension. That shows that he has a solid role in the offense and is trusted by the coaching staff. As for fantasy purposes, he’s yet to be an option in standard leagues with only producing 166 rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns. Here is where he’s a valuable option in PPR leagues. He had 60 receptions for 551 yards and five touchdowns. He’s the clear receiving back option in New England with the Dion Lewis experiment starting to fade away. His Super Bowl performance and contract extension should put him in a bigger role for the upcoming season.
6. Mike Gillislee
One of the biggest free-agent signings the Patriots made this off-season, Gillislee looks to work his way into the RB1 role. The lose of Blount and lack of down-field power with White and Lewis makes Gillislee the best option as the every down back. As a back-up in Buffalo, he still managed 577 rushing yards with 8 touchdowns. As the biggest bodied back, he will get the majority of goal-line looks as well. It’s unsure where Rex Burkhead will fit into Gillislee’s role, but one thing that is for sure is Gillislee will see the majority of snaps this season in a crowded running back core. He could end up being a late round steal especially with the Patriots only adding talent to their 2016 top-10 offensive line.
Honorable Mentions: Dont’a Hightower (IDP), Trey Flowers (IDP), Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell (Bench Stash, should be owned in all leagues)
*Fantasy Football Tip*
It’s always a good idea to plan ahead on your bench players. Never slack on your bench! In the NFL, defense wins championships. In fantasy football, a good bench wins championships! You never want to be left struggling to replace an injured player. Especially if your trade deadline has passed and the free agency is picked clean. PLAN YOUR BENCH!
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